Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The First Album I Ever Bought - Green Day; Dookie by Penfold

Dookie [180g Vinyl LP]

Admittedly a good chunk of time has elapsed since I made my first music purchase.  It was the spring of 1994.  I was still years away from obtaining my driver’s license, and perhaps more importantly my music fandom was still in its infancy.  Don’t get me wrong waveriders.  I’ve always loved music, but during that time period I had other things on my plate that sucked up much more of my free time; namely school and computer games.  However, the February release of Green Day’s Dookie apparently caused a shift in my priorities.  I used the word apparently because to be totally honest, I’m not sure what motivated me to actually make this purchase.  I don’t remember having any friends at the time who owned the album (no peer pressure), and I don’t believe I was listening to a lot of alternative music on the radio yet (still stuck on the parent-approved oldies).  Maybe it was fate?  We’ll never know.

Long story short, I managed to persuade my father to drive me down to the local Wallmart.  I seem to recall that it was a nice, sunny day outside.  When we arrived at the store, he accompanied me inside to the electronics department.  I picked out the cassette (for those that don’t know a cassette is a tape based medium that once upon a time was the most technologically advanced form of music storage), took it to the cashier, and paid out a chunk of my hard-earned allowance monies.  The album was officially mine.  Yes!!!  It was time to return home, and this is where the story gets good.

Skip ahead to when my father and I are back in the car.  Hastily, I’ve torn away the plastic wrap encapsulating the cassette.  Wanting a closer look at the captivating album art I’ve removed the liner notes (on reflection I’m not sure if ‘liner notes’ is the proper term since we’re talking about cassettes, but it’s all I’ve got right now).  Yep.  Intricately drawn cover art with tons of characters running around.  Nice.  On an inner page is a photo of Ernie from Sesame Street crowd surfing.  Very Nice!  But wait…what’s that on the other side?   It appeared to be song lyrics.  I began to read them, and that was when the trouble started.  Golly gee I thought.  There sure are a lot of cuss words in those lyrics.  Not only that, but there were also drug references and depictions of violence.  ‘This could be problematic’ said a tinny little voice inside my naïve mind.  Also, I can’t be sure, but I wouldn’t doubt that most of the color had quickly drained from my face.  What had I just bought?  Moments later, the worst possible scenario unfolded…

“Hey son, why don’t we listen to that new music of yours?”

Oh no!?!?  Must think quickly, must think quickly!  If my dad heard any of this music he would have turned the car around, drove straight back to the store, and forced me to return my new tape.  That wasn’t going to happen, but what could I say?  I’ve always been honest to a fault, so there was no way I could spin a convincing yarn my father would buy.  What if I just stretched the truth a little bit?

“That’s okay Dad.  I’d rather wait until we get home to listen to my new tape.”

That’s right…home.  Where a pair of headphones would ensure I was the only person hearing this new music.  And guess what?  My ploy worked!  Quick thinking had saved the day.  But that’s not all that happened.  There was something else.  Something important in my personal evolution.  At that moment, a storyteller was born.

Now let’s get down to business.  Story time is fine and dandy, but all of you waveriders out there are really here to find out about new and exciting music.  With that in mind, I’ll get to the matter at hand.  You probably haven’t heard about them, but there is an energetic trio of musicians operating out of Berkeley, California.  They go by the name Green Day and I have a feeling based on their first major label album, Dookie, that these guys might have a future in this business.  Just a feeling mind you.  I could be wrong, but let me explain myself.

Waveriders, I like punk rock.  Yes I do, and I’m not afraid to say it.  I know that there hasn’t been a really popular punk band on the radio or MTV in the past few years, but I believe that the time is right for some quality act to revive interest in punk rock with the youth today.  Grunge is good, but there has to be something else out there to add a little variety to the current musical landscape of the 1990s.  Maybe not a pure punk rock band that sounds like a carbon copy of originators like The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, etc., but a band that builds upon punk’s solid foundation and adds a wrinkle or two.  Perhaps this band could hold onto a lot of the punk snarl but add more pop sensibilities to the mix.  Well folks, that band has arrived.  That band is Green Day.

Dookie is a fourteen song monster of an album!  Seriously, it’s frightening!  It may be the single most infectious collection of music that anyone will hear this entire calendar year.  The first single off the album, “Longview”, is already a massive hit.  And why shouldn’t it be?  You’ve got Mike Dirnt’s extremely memorable bass line and Billie Joe Armstrong’s edgy lyrics coupled with massive choruses boasting ultra-crunchy guitar and explosive drums.   Actually based on the ridiculous strength of all the songs available, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find this album still charting in 1995 or beyond. 

It’s anybody’s guess what the next single will be, but my money is on “Welcome To Paradise”.  This song is all about power.  It’s in your face immediately with muscular guitar riffs, but what really floors me is the out of control locomotive drumming.  One second everything seems normal and the next Tre Cool seems to have grown another couple of appendages for use on lightning quick drum fills.  Awesome!  Another strong contender for the next single has to be “Basket Case”.  The hook on this song is so fantastic I guarantee you won’t be able to get it out of your head for weeks on end.  Pop-punk indeed!  Lastly, if the powers that be at Reprise Records really want to reel in every young person possible, they will release the song “When I Come Around”.  Trust me Reprise Records.  This is a modern day alternative anthem waiting to happen!

Waveriders, punk rock may have taken a break from the limelight in the dark days of the late eighties/early nineties, but rest assured that it’s back thanks to Green Day.  No it’s not your parents’ punk rock.  Green Day is a little poppier, a little more refined, but still bursting at the seams with aggression and attitude to spare.  The musical landscape is about to change.  Pick up a copy of Dookie and be a part of the revolution!


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